I came to yoga from Pilates, and I came to both from running. I’ve run since I was a teenager, but I’ve never been drawn to seriously compete. (It took me until this year to get a Garmin!) Probably because of that, I’ve hesitated to use “athlete” as a self-descriptor, even though I have a training cycle and a commitment to running. I’ve long been “athletic” though, and movement has always been a priority for me. What I’ve come to realize is that all of us who are serious about our movement practices—whatever they may be—are athletes. And all of us who want to be sure we can continue those movement practices as we age are aging athletes.
I started doing Pilates as a way to add much-needed core strength into my running training. Core work can be intimidating, and that was what drew me to it—it was hard and challenging. Yoga came along a year or two later, but initially I was reluctant to embrace yoga. It was too “hippie” and too meditative for me. I didn’t understand then how absolutely crucial yoga is as a complement to running (and as an antidote to the physical and mental stresses of daily life.)
The type of yoga I did when I was younger emphasized deep flexibility and pretzel-like contortions. That yoga was a lot of fun in my twenty-something body. But as I aged, dealt with injuries, and went through pregnancy, I came to think of yoga differently. Aging, injuries, and pregnancy are similar because they each provide opportunities to heed our bodies’ messages. Yoga became my tool for healing, strengthening, and increasing range of motion. I embraced the meditative aspects of yoga more and found that my yoga habit complemented my running but also offered me peace in my daily life that I found with nothing else.
As my yoga practice changed, so did the classes I offered. My classes started drawing clients in their forties, fifties, sixties, and older—folks who were active in their daily lives and saw yoga, as I did, as an important tool for staying athletic. Around this time, my active, baby-boomer dad started to ask me about yoga—something that still fills me with immeasurable joy! I began developing yoga sequences specifically for my dad’s needs, and this led me to develop the Yoga for Aging Athletes program at Carrboro Yoga Company and to begin labeling my classes Yoga for Aging Athletes and Yoga for Healthy Aging. I’ve also taught various University of North Carolina athletic teams and I regularly offer yoga classes at Alamance Community College, where I’ve been a professor of writing and literature for nearly ten years.
Now a dedicated yoga practitioner and teacher, I’m still a runner, too. I run multiple times a week, and since 2004, I’ve covered hundreds of miles section-hiking the Appalachian Trail. As an aging athlete, I think about how to keep my body healthy and strong so I can continue to move. We are all aging. The bodies we inhabit change with every passing day, and while there’s no escaping that fact, what we do in response to the aging process determines whether aging is a sweet part of life or a source of frustration. My great hope is that what we offer on this blog allows you to tap into the sweetness of aging. Read more about me and see my full schedule of classes at alexandradesiato.com.